Outrageous Surf School: Surf Lessons

Whenever I review a surf school, I tell the instructor that I know very little about surfing and to treat me as if this is my first time surfing. This way I can see how the school treats their students and the information I provide to me readers is that much more helpful. It’s really not that much of a stretch either; I’m not that good of a surfer. I have a long way to go before I will even consider myself to be a beginner. The instructors at Outrageous Surf School not only took me at my word, but they made me feel good about it. My kids on the other hand were fantastic!

We scheduled our surf lessons with Kai Schmidt, the sales and marketing manager for Outrageous Surf School. Like everyone else who works for Outrageous Surf School, Kai has an intense love and respect for the sport of surfing. And like everyone else, Kai is also one of the instructors.

Outrageous Surf School is located right on Front Street in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. It’s easy to find because the school and retail store is right across the street from the world famous Banyan Tree. The location makes Outrageous Surf School extremely convenient. It’s easy to find. There is plenty of free parking. (Pay parking is available, too. Which can be a good thing depending on the season and time of day.) There are plenty of restaurants nearby. Which is also important; you’ll be hungry after the lesson. Trust Me.

Outrageous Surf School is one of the few surf schools with permits to operate surf lessons at the Lahaina Breakwall. Other surf schools use the area without the proper permits and just recently one of them received a hefty fine for illegally using the area for classes. Oh, did I mention that Outrageous Surf School is the only school in Lahaina that transports the surf boards to the beach for you. All the other surf schools let you carry your own board to the beach. This may not sound like a big deal, but let me tell you the boards get really heavy after the lesson and you’ll appreciate this convenience after paddling out for a two hour lesson.

Outrageous Surf School offers three lessons each day, depending on the weather and surf conditions. The times for the surf lessons are 8:00 am, 11:00 am, and 2:00 pm. Our surf lesson was scheduled for 11:00 am, which meant we could sleep in a bit and not have to rush to get ready. It also meant we needed a little more sunscreen, but that was not a big deal.

Our three children wanted to come with us to watch from the sand and since we had no sitter we agreed. We cautioned them to be on their best behavior or the consequences would be sever: no dinner at Cool Cat’s. They promised to make us proud and we promised them a kieki burger, a grilled cheese sandwich, and a Frisco Burger after the lesson. They agreed to stay out of the water, get along with each other, and look after each other during our two hour lesson. We had a deal.

We walked down Front St, to Outrageous Surf School. My wife and I in our swimsuits, t-shirts, and slippers, and three incredibly well behaved children in tow. We arrived at Outrageous Surf School promptly at 11:00. As we entered the front door, all three of our children clasped their hands behind their backs. They learned early in life that this would make sure they didn’t touch anything without permission. Kai greeted us with a warm “Aloha” and welcomed us to Outrageous Surf School. Our 11 year old looked around the room and said it was awesome, thought about it a little more and then declared the room, “Outrageous”! He has his father’s sense of humor.

We met Jesse who has worked at Outrageous Surf School since high school. He graduated Lahainaluna High School, the oldest high school west of the Rockies, in 2003 and has worked for Outrageous Surf School since he was 16. He loved people and sharing his knowledge of the Hawaiian sport of Surfing. His favorite part is watching the faces of his students when they come out of the water. At the time of our lesson, Jesse was at the end of his eight months recovery from a recent shoulder surgery. He popped his shoulder surfing and only recently received the “green light” from the doctor to get back in the water.

The Outrageous Surf School building is filled with surfboards, rashguards, t-shirts, and suntan lotion. What I consider to be the actual surf school is really located in the water. It is a surf school, after all. Nevertheless, the store was nice, clean, and we felt at home. Kai offered us a quick introduction to the surf school and asked about our surfing experience. We told him we were both beginners and were looking forward to the lesson. Kai noticed how well behaved our children were and asked if they would like to learn to surf, too.

Our children are ages 5, 8, and 11. I thought they might be a little young to learn, but Kai assured us they would be fine. If we felt more comfortable, Outrageous Surf School could provide life vests for them. That made me feel a lot better and we agreed. Kai promised to keep them on the inside and would personally teach them to surf. I have never seen all three children this excited.

After changing into their swimsuits, luckily my wife always keeps extra swimsuits and towels in the car, we were ready to get started.

Kai led us outside to put on our water shoes. The bottom where we would be surfing has a lot of sharp rocks and coral, so water shoes are a good thing to have. The water shoes used by Outrageous Surf School are made by Crocs – the Hydro. They are extremely buoyant and can even function as a flipper. I found the Hydro to be much more comfortable than the surf booties used by other surf schools. They much more sturdy and provide a lot more support and protection.

The children all tried on water shoes in order to find the perfect fit. Kai gave my daughter a pair he thought would fit her perfectly. She tried them on and declared them uncomfortable. She needed to try another pair. Kai offered her another pair. Uncomfortable. She tried four different pairs of water shoes and nothing was comfortable. Finally, I gave her the first pair of water shoes and helped her tighten them up. They were fine. Cinderella’s got nothing on her.

Rash guards were next on the agenda. Rash guards offer protection from any abrasion that might be caused by the board or the underwater surface. Outrageous Surf School uses XCEL rash guards because of their hight quality and comfort. We needed to make sure they fit snug and not too loose.

For younger kids, Outrageous Surf School provides life vests. I think they are more for the parents than for the kids. My children would have been fine without them, but I was much more relaxed and had a much better time knowing they had life vests on. Our daughter was given a blue one and our younger son was given one in his favorite color which is orange. Our fashion conscious daughter thought the orange one would look better with her outfit so she convinced her brother to trade. He didn’t mind and was happy to help her out.

There is about a five minute walk from Outrageous Surf School to the location of the actual surf lesson. Just south of Lahaina Harbor is a “break wall” where the surf is gently and perfect for beginner surfers. In fact, it was voted best beginner surf spot by several magazines. The walk is easy, since our boards were already taken to the beach the Outrageous Surf School instructors. I really like that we don’t have to carry the boards. When we arrived at the beach I noticed another advantage of Outrageous Surf School over other surf schools. We didn’t need to paddle very far to get to the waves. We were already “right there”. For me, I’m not in really great shape, this is very cool.

When we reached the beach, Kai brought over five boards so my wife and I and our three children could begin our surf lesson. The boards used by Outrageous Surf School are all soft top surfboards. There are three main reasons for using soft top surfboards: they are easier to ride since they have a surface your feet can grip, they don’t hurt as much if you run into someone while surfing, and they don’t hurt as much if you lose control and your board hits you. Happily for this time out, we only needed to be concerned with reason number one.

Kai placed all the boards side by side and asked us to stand on the boards like we were going to hit a baseball. My daughter and I stood with our right feet in the front; my wife and the two boys stood with their left feet in front. This would be the way we would stand when we were surfing. Kai instructed each of us to wrap the leash around the ankle of our back foot and to lay down on the boards when we were done. The was a little confusion when one of the boys had the leash wrapped on the inside rather than on the outside of his ankle, but that was easy to correct.

With leashes on our ankles and smiles on our faces, our surf lessons were under way. Kai explained that the surfboard will respond differently depending on where we were positioned on it. Too far forward and the nose would dip into the water; too far back and we would pop a wheelie and lose our balance. We needed to find just the right spot on the board in order to be able to ride waves. That spot could be found by laying on the board with our feet about one foot from the end of the board.

Once we found the proper starting spot, Outrageous Surf School employed a simple step by step process for learning to stand and surf. From the prone position with our feet about a foot from the bottom of the board, the first step is to push up so our arms are straight and our bodies are arched. the next step is to bring your dominant leg (the one with the leash) up to the center of the board. The lower part of your dominant leg, from knee to ankle, stays on the board. The next step is to bring your other leg up so you land on your foot and are in a position from which you can stand. As you can guess, the next step is to stand up on the surfboard. It’s simple and it was easier than you would think. I found this technique to be easier, for me at least, than techniques I have learned from other schools. The other techniques work, too. This one just seemed easier.

We practiced standing on the surfboards until we felt confident that we could perform all the steps when we were on the water. It was hot on the sand and we were more than ready to get wet and cool off. We dragged the surfboards into the water, pointed them in the right direction, and started to paddle out.

Kai kept the kids on the inside where the water was shallow and he could keep a close eye in them. Honestly though, there were so many instructors in the water that someone always had an eye on them.

My wife and I had the option of paddling further out and working with one of the other Outrageous Surf School instructors or staying inside and watching the kids. We opted to stay and watch for a little while. We could always surf later, but watching the kids surf for the first time would only happen once. It was amazing to see how easy it was for them.

They all had there own individual styles for learning and for riding the waves. Our younger son was fearless. He was nicknamed “the strong one”. He conquered every wave and never wiped out. Instead, he would lay back down on the board after each ride and paddle back out. Our daughter was “the trickster”. She would start out goofy foot, switch to regular stance in the middle of a ride, and then back to goofy foot again. Out oldest son received the “stick-to-itiveness” award. No matter how many times he fell off the board, he always got right back on and paddled out for more.

Once we knew the kids were having fun and were in good hands, we paddled out a little further and worked with other Outrageous Surf School instructors to put into practice the techniques we learned on the sand. We rode a few waves under the guidance of the Outrageous Surf School instructors in the water. And then it was time to watch the kids some more.

Our oldest son was becoming a little frustrated because he kept falling in the water after each ride. I talked to him after he fell off a wave he rode for a very long time, nearly to the sand on the beach, but seemed very disappointed. I thought he did great, but he was upset because he fell into the water every time. I explained to him that that was how the rides end. When you watch even professional surfers, they fall into the water just about every time, too. That seemed to make it ok. Now, falling into the water had become part of the ride itself rather than a mistake or a failure at the end of the ride. Each time he fell into the water was just another opportunity to paddle out and catch another one.

All of the instructors at Outrageous Surf School genuinely love surfing and teaching others the techniques needed to enjoy the sport. One instructor in particular really made a difference for my oldest son’s surfing experience. If you have children who want to learn to surf, make sure you ask for Todd. Todd grew up in Southern California and graduated from Edison High School in Huntington Beach, California. He later graduated from California State University Long Beach (CSULB) with a degree in Finance. Not the credentials of your typical surf instructor, but then again, Todd is not just any surf instructor. Our son really connected with Todd and shared with me that Todd spoke with him like he was a real person, not just a kid. No condescending tone, just a friendly manner that was conducive to learning to surf and love the ocean. And, I am pleased to say, our son achieved both.

By the end of the lesson, each of the kids could stand with ease and ride the waves all the way in. They didn’t want to get out of the water. Only when we promised them that we could come back another time did they grudgingly agree to call it a day.

Outrageous Surf School
640 Front Street
Lahaina, HI 96761
808.669.1400
www.youcansurf.com

Tiny Bubbles Scuba
About Maury Hoffman |Things to Do on Maui | Restaurant and Activity Reviews

Senior Editor of 808 Reviews and freelance travel writer, Maury Hoffman lives on Maui with his familiy, iPad, iPhone, and other gadgets. His writing proficiency is directly related to the quality of his morning coffee. He prefers Peet's Coffee, but also enjoys Living Java.

Tiny Bubbles Scuba